Investment in home grown talent essential to reduce the national skills shortage

Columnists | North West | Opinion

Jo Sellick column

In a little under 12 months we will make our formal exit out of the European Union. This is bound to cause our national talent pool to steadily decrease as EU nationals choose not to settle here in the UK.

As a country we have long relied on European workers to help power our economy and we need to reduce this reliance and look elsewhere if we are to remain competitive. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimates that currently one in ten UK workers were born outside of the UK and I would expect this figure to drop dramatically over the next ten years.

The uncertainty surrounding what impact this will have on our economy and workforce is worrying but I am positive it will add to our current skills shortage if we do not act soon.

As a national recruitment firm we witness this shortage every day. Technically minded and skilled candidates are constantly in high demand, and are often recruited straight away, and I believe competition for talent is only set to get worse. In order to remain competitive, UK organisations are going to have to think of different ways to strengthen their workforce, and I believe investing in home-grown talent is the only way forward.

Developing existing talent is an effective way of solving recruitment problems and could have a positive impact on our economy as a whole. I believe this is what we need to start considering in order to be successful post Brexit. The education review announced earlier this year by Theresa May and the proposed amendments to the Apprenticeship Levy are a step in the right direction. At its core, our skills shortage is an education issue.

Too many UK organisations rely on specific qualifications, and disregard any candidates who do not fit their exact criteria, which is often a mistake.

In order to rectify the problem we first need to work with our young people and give them all the same opportunities and access to education and development opportunities.

This I hope would encourage more people to think about their career options and give them a clear route for progression, and I hope the education review goes some way in ensuring this happens. However this is only part of the problem.

I also believe we need to ensure companies recognise all forms of education, and look at candidates based on their core skills rather than solely on experience and qualifications.

In order to reduce our skills shortage organisations need to recognise talent regardless of background or qualifications. Placing too much emphasis on one type of learning and route to employment, whether this is university degrees or management schemes carries risk. Instead companies should be open-minded and look for candidates with transferable skills that could be developed.

I believe by doing this, and by ensuring everyone has access to the full spectrum of educational routes we could greatly enhance our talent pool, and in turn reduce the skills shortage across the UK.

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